Monday, October 15, 2012

Review of Ustream: Ads Destroy Videostreaming Experience


Ustream demonstrated clearly this weekend why its free model is practically useless for livestreaming conferences or other events.

I've used Ustream before, and the experience was usually solid. There were no glitches. The video quality was the best, and there were no obtrusive ads. This past weekend, however, I had one of the worst experiences ever with streaming video. 

I participated in the live Twitter event that occurs each week called #satchat. This weekend they were broadcasting live through Ustream from New Milford High School's Edscape event. Basically, right in the middle of the broadcast, I was subjected to repeated, (I counted 5 times), interruptions of the same video of a Romney campaign advertisement. I certainly understand the need for ads. The organizers of #satchat were most likely using the basic Ustream access, which I understand is ad-based. The obtrusiveness of the political ads during the broadcast made watching the session impossible. 

It is one thing to break away for a commercial like conventional television programming does, but it is a entirely different experience to be watching a conversation and suddenly, a loud, boisterous campaign ad appears, completely obliterating the conference session you were watching. Even one time would perhaps be excusable, but five times meant for miserable viewing.

I do not disparage those who put on #satchat each week. It is always an engaging and thought-provoking experience. I also do not think any less of Edscape, which is becoming one of the "must-go-to conferences" in the country. 

In practical terms though, I my experience with Ustream means that should I want to broadcast an event through livestreaming, I would be better served by using either a service with less obtrusive advertising, or use one of the paid versions of the product. It is definitely a miserable experience to use a product that broadcasts a video feed, then suddenly viewers are subjected to a political ad with a volume at least 100 decibels higher than the conference session. Choosing the right product for your conference session is highly important obviously. Otherwise, like I was forced to do in this instance, your viewers are going to tune out.

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